PFS 2-11 The Penumbral Accords *SPOILERS*


GM Discussion

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3/5

This adventure was run on 12/26 (online) with the following party:
4th level barbarian/inquisitor
2nd level inquisitor
1st level fighter
1st level cavalier
2nd level bard(?)
2nd level rogue/summoner

The party decided on tier 1-2.

Mod Details:
Combats were minimally challenging, with the most interesting the fight with Mazzel Gol, but mostly due to my modifications (see below)

The following changes were made by me as a DM:

In addition to low-light inside the museum, light sources operated at half-distance (as per shadow plane rules in some edition of D&D). This was to slightly enhance the survivability of the fetchlings, since it appears that as simple torch at close range can negate their best ability (Shadow Blending). Unless I'm reading the darkness environmental rules incorrectly, it doesn't seem like the low-light is much of a hindrance to the PC's (except, perhaps, fighting the Shadow Hound with his significantly stronger version). Torches and sunrods negate all environmental penalties easily.

The second change was to start Mazzel invisible and spider climbing. More then anything else, this was so that she had a chance to talk to the PC's... she's potentially a great villain with all too short a lifespan. I used her as a way to introduce the concept of the Onyx Alliance, to discuss Shadow Absalom and Argrinyxia as well as to exploit differences between the more mercenary and more noble members of the PC party. My goal was to have a dialog about the serving the Blakros family when they had originally agreed to this pact in good faith, but that was cut short by combat. After combat initiated, she was quickly dispatched.

I must say this about the mod, which is a general flaw of many Paizo mods I have run, is that villain development is almost non-existent. I went out of my way to add that development into this mod, and (I believe) it added a lot to the flavor of the setting and an understanding of their foe. Of course, the villains aren't always 1-dimensional in modules. Decline of Glory springs to mind; Grald Kretchmoor made an interesting antagonist that eventually turned to neutral or helpful against the undead hordes. The drow as a collective entity also make good foes, although not individually.

I simply wish that there were more faces to pin the concept of 'bad-guy' or 'antagonist' in PF mods. A corrupt official, and clever, super-powerful villain. I suppose the episodic nature works against the adventures in that regards.

The Exchange 4/5

I've ran this scenario twice, once at 1-2 and the other at 4-5. I thought everything was awesome except for the last encounter (criticism goes for someone who GM'ed another table of it here in GA as well).

Spoiler:
The BBEG at the end, Uthil Mak, is really lame. First off, there is no real story to help tie him in to the scenario. He just sit there and brands a strange rune onto the foreheads of the slaves. I mean, yeah cool, but kind of a letdown considering the rest of the scenario.

Secondly, he's a WIMP in combat. His AC is really low, and it doesn't even go up in the 4-5 Subtier. And no matter where he goes into the room, he will always get flanked. He can't move far enough to be able to pull out a potion and use it. Each time I ran it, he has died in 3 rounds.

All in all, he's a huge letdown from the fight with Mazzel Gol. Mazzel is a beast and really has the potential to wipe parties. It would make more sense if he was the BBEG, especially with his experimentation on slaves. Spider climb + being invisible at first = this guy is ridiculous. Not to mention he has a great multiattack with his bite and 2 claws once his bombs run out! He has the great story atmosphere and the fighting prowess that Uthil lacks.

Uthil needs to be a bit more fleshed out, like he's about to sacrifice one of the daughters, and you have X rounds to get to him because he has 2 other guys there to block you from getting to him. Or at the very least, just give him some henchmen so he won't be so lonely as the only target. And a higher AC would do well too!

BTW, I have hopes that this won't be the last of dealing with the repercussions of this adventure.

Spoiler:
Zelius Jagrah, the Cheliax slave you save from Mazzel, seems like a perfect candidate for another adventure. First off, they've given him a name. Second off, there is no way to tell whether or not the "liquid night" infusion experiment was a success or not because he doesn't know what happened and there are no wounds or markings that would give you further clues. And because of his ties to a faction mission, almost all the time he will be saved and the PCs release him back into Absalom. So PCs have just released a slave who's potentially been fused with "liquid night" back into the real world. I would not be surprised to find him to be a central plot to an upcoming scenario...

5/5

Joseph Caubo wrote:
** spoiler omitted **...

+1

One of the worst final encounters ever. :(

Shadow Lodge 2/5

I played this scenario and we enjoyed it quite a bit, have to agree with the assessment that the 'final' encounter is pretty weak. We had a much tougher time with the encounter Joseph mentions.

Also:

Spoiler:
The non-linear nature of this dungeon kind of encourages parties to jump to skip to the final encounter right off the bat. This is what we did and it was a bit of a cake walk because everyone was still buffed from the fight with the dragon skeleton in the first encounter. For us the encounter with Mazzel Gol was much more challenging.

The Exchange 4/5

0gre wrote:

I played this scenario and we enjoyed it quite a bit, have to agree with the assessment that the 'final' encounter is pretty weak. We had a much tougher time with the encounter Joseph mentions.

Also:
** spoiler omitted **

But...

Spoiler:
...you need to be careful skipping to the last fight. If the party kills Uthil Mak and then immediately deactivates the Wightir Conjunction, the PCs and the twins return to Absalom Prime and the rest of the encounters don't happen. This would mean you've only done 2 out of 3 encounters you need to guarantee XP, as well as miss out on all the PA and gold (since they are tied to things in other rooms). Not to mention, you don't save the rest of the slaves.

Shadow Lodge 2/5

Joseph Caubo wrote:
Spoilers

Spoiler:
Sure, it could make for a very short session if you did that :D

I think faction missions are enough incentive to prevent that from happening.

This brings up one point which was a potential issue for our group though. In spite of the fact that we assumed the brands were significant there was no clear way to know how to get the branded slaves out of the shadow realm. We figured that if you left through the door in the shadow realm you would be lost in the shadow realm so no one really thought to try it.

I haven't read the scenario so I can't say if it was GM related or just confusing in the scenario.

The Exchange 4/5

0gre wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
So as soon as you deactivate the Wightir Conjunction, any branded slaves still left inside the Shadow Plane museum is actually left in the Shadow Realm. You have to walk everyone to the front door of the museum and they magically poof back into Absalom Prime (it doesn't work the same for PCs though, heh).
Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

Ok we are in the GM section, so I don't feel the need for Spoilers, especially with it marked in the Title.

That said, Zelius Jagrah *the vivisected guy* is supposed to help connect what the Runes are for, also I allowed a Knowledge Arcana or Planes roll to help with it.

Also on the Final battle, I agree, he was very wimpy and in major need of cohorts to help with the battle, but I had him tumbling around a lot to help with his survivability.

I think this scenario would have been more challenging if more was done in it to assure dim light through out the scenario. The CL check was just not good enough, especially since you can just re cast the light spell over and over again until you make the check. Also with it not working against natural light sources kind of made that useless anyway.

Shadow Lodge 2/5

Dragnmoon wrote:

Ok we are in the GM section, so I don't feel the need for Spoilers, especially with it marked in the Title.

That said, Zelius Jagrah *the vivisected guy* is supposed to help connect what the Runes are for, also I allowed a Knowledge Arcana or Planes roll to help with it.

He did sort of help, mostly by insisting we let him out. May have been a matter of dense players (me) or just the GM didn't feel comfortable getting creative with K(Arcana) or (Planes). Not a huge problem but something I thought worth mentioning (particularly since someone will be grumpy if they can't figure it out and lose PA.

The Exchange 4/5

Dragnmoon wrote:

Ok we are in the GM section, so I don't feel the need for Spoilers, especially with it marked in the Title.

That said, Zelius Jagrah *the vivisected guy* is supposed to help connect what the Runes are for, also I allowed a Knowledge Arcana or Planes roll to help with it.

I know that's what he's there for, but I feel he could be useful for being an antagonist in a future scenario!

Dragnmoon wrote:
I think this scenario would have been more challenging if more was done in it to assure dim light through out the scenario. The CL check was just not good enough, especially since you can just re cast the light spell over and over again until you make the check. Also with it not working against natural light sources kind of made that useless anyway.

I made a decision to make the entire scenario in dim light, regardless of the CL on spells or natural light sources. I didn't really feel like getting to rulesy with the mechanics of it, especially since there isn't a whole lot to go with in the scenario itself besides the CL checks. I think if someone had a continual flame on an item, then things would be different (but luckily the low-level newbs won't have that!).

It does make the scenario challenging, but still doesn't help the wimpy BBEG at the slightest.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Used due to long post:
I ran this at GamiCon and had a slightly different experience. Played at tier 1-2 with an Alchemist, Oracle(life), THW fighter, & Rogue. Despite having a sunrod that neutralized all the lighting effects (lame btw), they struggled. The fighter almost died against the Iron Cobra, largely due to multiple failed fort saves and dropping due to HP loss. The others had a hard time overcoming the DR.

All PC's except the rogue failed their save vs. the Bay affect of the Shadow Hound. Even gimped (what is "frenzied" supposed to mean?), it was a tough encounter. The fighter, after recovering from the Bay, dropped three times before the end.

They had no problem with Mazzel Gol. I made a legitimate perception check for her to hear them fighting the cobra, and she failed. I was a bit concerned about a low-subtier table's survivability against a 4th level alchemist anyway. However, I think, next time, I'll have her better prepared. Invisible and Spider Climb combined with True Strike will make this a much more challenging encounter.

Uthil Mak was a real challenge. The PC's opened the door, but lost initiative. He immediately drank his potion of Shield of Faith. Bumping his AC to 19 (touch 18) was tough for the PC's to deal with. I had him fight from the ziggurat giving him high ground against approaching PC's. He used flurry and stunning fist with both attacks in rounds one and two. The fighter missed one save in each round. Taking damage kept the Oracle busy healing the fighter. Using 5ft steps, Mak largely kept the rogue from getting a flank. The alchemist, despite having a hard time hitting the touch AC, was the most effective, but only because he had Precise Bombs to selectively eliminate collateral splash damage. Without that, he would likely have killed PC's or the Blackros daughters. Once his Ki points were gone, Mak dropped like a cheerleader on prom night :-)

Joseph Caubo wrote:


I made a decision to make the entire scenario in dim light

I am running this again on Thursday night and want to have the lighting effects impact all light sources, not just magic ones. Will this significantly impact the PC's survivability or just make it more challenging? I don't want a TPK because I decided to run against the printed information.

The Exchange 4/5

TwilightKnight wrote:
Stuff.

In all my times running (2) and talking about people running it, the thing that made this encounter challenging was the miss chance laid out for the NPCs. But what's to stop some anyone from sitting there casting light over and over again until they make the appropriate check? A not so well-written mechanic if you ask me, and therefore I decided to ad-lib a bit.

I think your fighter just had bad dice. A DC 11 Fort save? Your fighter should hopefully have at least or greater than a 50% chance of rolling to make the save. Sounded like he needed to change his dice.

For Tier 1-2, Mazzel is the hardest battle. How she failed so miserably not hearing the battle is beyond me. (Lowers the DC by 10, but raises by having to hear through a door, giving it a -5 to the DC before you start applying distance penalties). It is even more deadly due to how often you find parties who do NOT have range. Also, with her spider climb, you can well place her out of range of light sources so she gets her 50% miss chance on attacks. She just loses it when she has fight face to face because she's run out of bombs! :P

How were you able to get Uthil to take 5-foot steps on the zig? I would have said that's difficult terrain and 5-foot steps aren't allowed. I think that would have made your fight less challenging though, but it's hard for me to wrap my head around being able to 5 foot step on that. I mean, you can't 5 foot step on most sets of stairs, especially something so steep as a zig.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Joseph Caubo wrote:
I think your fighter just had bad dice. A DC 11 Fort save? Your fighter should hopefully have at least or greater than a 50% chance of rolling to make the save. Sounded like he needed to change his dice.

Actually he slammed his Wisdom for more Str/Dex/Con. Leaving him with a -1 Will save. Not the best idea, IMO, but there it is. Less than 50/50 to make the save. Personally, I'm not superstitious about dice. Probability says that, each roll taken individually, the chance to roll an 11 is the same no matter how many times you have already rolled. Of course this does not apply if your dice are weighted due to low quality control during manufacturing.

Joseph Caubo wrote:
How were you able to get Uthil to take 5-foot steps on the zig? I would have said that's difficult terrain and 5-foot steps aren't allowed.

He wasn't changing elevation, only moving along the same step. Even though you could ague that the step is narrow and would make it difficult terrain, I chose not to. Also, the version on the Shadow Plane could only be a two-step version. Having the twins kneeing directly in front, caused the PC's to split their advance as they approached. This allowed him to focus on the fighter in round one and stun him. Then take a 5ft step to engage the rogue in round 2. Then step back and stun the fighter again before he could act. Then he used Ki points to get the extra attack over the next three rounds. He was prepared to use his last Ki point for the dodge bonus so he would, hopefully be missed when drinking the potion of Cure Mod. Unfortunately, the alchemist rolled a nat 20 and finished him off. The 20% miss chance could have made this encounter a bit more of a challenge.

The Exchange 4/5

TwilightKnight wrote:
Actually he slammed his Wisdom for more Str/Dex/Con. Leaving him with a -1 Will save. Not the best idea, IMO, but there it is. Less than 50/50 to make the save. Personally, I'm not superstitious about dice. Probability says that, each roll taken individually, the chance to roll an 11 is the same no matter how many times you have already rolled. Of course this does not apply if your dice are weighted due to low quality control during manufacturing.

The Iron Cobra's venom is a Fort save. From what you're saying he should have definitely had a greater than 50% chance of making it. I play each game with multiple sets of dice, if one keeps rolling bad for me, I switch to a new set. But then again, I'm a bit quirky like that! :P

Quote:
He wasn't changing elevation, only moving along the same step. Even though you could ague that the step is narrow and would make it difficult terrain, I chose not to. Also, the version on the Shadow Plane could only be a two-step version. Having the twins kneeing directly in front, caused the PC's to split their advance as they approached. This allowed him to focus on the fighter in round one and stun him. Then take a 5ft step to engage the rogue in round 2. Then step back and stun the fighter again before he could act. Then he used Ki points to get the extra attack over the next three rounds. He was prepared to use his last Ki point for the dodge bonus so he would, hopefully be missed when drinking the potion of Cure Mod. Unfortunately, the alchemist rolled a nat 20 and finished him off. The 20% miss chance could have made this encounter a bit more of a challenge.

See, I think the zig is too narrow a step, because it's drawn even smaller than most stairs, which I definitely think it should be difficult terrain. But regardless, the miss chance is 50% if they don't have the appropriate lighting source, not 20 >:)

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Joseph Caubo wrote:
The Iron Cobra's venom is a Fort save.

Duh, I must still be tired from the con. LOL So chalk it up to just bad dice. It happens

Joseph Caubo wrote:
See, I think the zig is too narrow a step, because it's drawn even smaller than most stairs, which I definitely think it should be difficult terrain. But regardless, the miss chance is 50% if they don't have the appropriate lighting source, not 20 >:)

Since the whole light source/shadow thing was neutralized by a sunrod, I didn't really pay attention to the miss chances. Another reason why i want to nerf the caster level check for my next run. I can see the argument about the difficult terrain, but let's face it, without their concealment, fletchlings are no more scary, or interesting than an orc. I had to do something :-)

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

It would appear that the intent, when the conjunction ends, is all unattended objects and living or dead shadow creatures will remain on the Shadow Plane when the party is shunted back to the material. It also appears that anyone with the rune on their forehead would remain on the Shadow Plane. Is that correct?
If so, unless the party forces the front doors open, prior to deactivating the ziggurat, and sending them out, Zelius Jagrah and two of the slaves will main on the Shadow Plane, presumably forever. Correct?

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

TwilightKnight wrote:

It would appear that the intent, when the conjunction ends, is all unattended objects and living or dead shadow creatures will remain on the Shadow Plane when the party is shunted back to the material. It also appears that anyone with the rune on their forehead would remain on the Shadow Plane. Is that correct?

If so, unless the party forces the front doors open, prior to deactivating the ziggurat, and sending them out, Zelius Jagrah and two of the slaves will main on the Shadow Plane, presumably forever. Correct?

Correct, and in the proccess messing up a few Faction missions,

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

That's what I thought. So considering that the Knowledge(planes) check to understand the conjunction is only 15 to begin with, what would be a fair DC to know that the rune ties the owner to the Shadow Plane, etc.? Or is that just a "haha, you're screwed" moment at the end of the mod?

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

TwilightKnight wrote:
That's what I thought. So considering that the Knowledge(planes) check to understand the conjunction is only 15 to begin with, what would be a fair DC to know that the rune ties the owner to the Shadow Plane, etc.? Or is that just a "haha, you're screwed" moment at the end of the mod?

After Zelius Jagrah "Hints" about it I gave them a Knowledge (Planes)/(Arcana)15 check to put 1 and 1 together.

Edit: I would make the DC higher if they did get the info from Zelius Jagrah, maybe a 20?

Shadow Lodge 2/5

I just had the slaves insist that they get out immediately.

The K(Planes) check is a good idea too.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

0gre wrote:

I just had the slaves insist that they get out immediately.

The K(Planes) check is a good idea too.

I prefer, Z Plane! check myself ;)

The Exchange 4/5

Quote:
If taken out of the front door while the Wightir Convergence is active, he immediately reappears on the Material Plane, his ties to the Shadow Plane broken.

I assume that you can just walk them to the front door and they just disappear, it doesn't even have to be open. Because remember, 1 PA is tied to making a skill check, the other is supposed to be a freebie. If you make it a skill check, you're essentially screwing some folks out of their 'free' PA.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Joseph Caubo wrote:
I assume that you can just walk them to the front door and they just disappear, it doesn't even have to be open. Because remember, 1 PA is tied to making a skill check, the other is supposed to be a freebie. If you make it a skill check, you're essentially screwing some folks out of their 'free' PA.

Not in this case. First you have to free the slaves which requires you to recover the key (extremely likely) or succeed at a DC25 Disable Device check (or force it, hardness 10, hp60, break DC28).

Then you have to open the front door. Again, DC25 Disable Device check (or force it, hardness 8, 60 hp, break DC 20).
If you fail to open the front door prior to disabling the conjunction effect, when everyone is shunted back to the material plan, those with runes will be lost to the plane of Shadow. However, because the twins and three other slaves do not have the mark, you will still complete the mission. It's just not going to sit well with a paladin or other such character (Andoran) that they lost two "innocents" plus Zelius. As a matter of fact, Cheliax PC's will likely be happy if Zelius does not escape. That assures they succeed on their mission.
Without Knowledge(planes), the PC's may not be able to determine that the runes tire the NPC to the Shadow Plane. This happened to my group. After defeating Uthil Mak, they immediately disabled the conjunction. Shunt. they lost the slaves with marks. Sorry, too bad, soo sad.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

Joseph Caubo wrote:
Quote:
If taken out of the front door while the Wightir Convergence is active, he immediately reappears on the Material Plane, his ties to the Shadow Plane broken.
I assume that you can just walk them to the front door and they just disappear, it doesn't even have to be open. Because remember, 1 PA is tied to making a skill check, the other is supposed to be a freebie. If you make it a skill check, you're essentially screwing some folks out of their 'free' PA.

There is no such thing as a "Freebie" PA, but there is almost always and easy one to get.

Shadow Lodge 2/5

You don't even have to skill check to get the front door open, just take enough rounds with an axe/ sword.

The Exchange 4/5

Dragnmoon wrote:
There is no such thing as a "Freebie" PA, but there is almost always and easy one to get.

There is a meaning behind it being in quotes...

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

Joseph Caubo wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
There is no such thing as a "Freebie" PA, but there is almost always and easy one to get.
There is a meaning behind it being in quotes...

Well I can't read your mind..;)

The Exchange 4/5

Dragnmoon wrote:
Well I can't read your mind..;)

I thought we had Telepathic Bond cast permanently on us...

Liberty's Edge

I don't know...freebie sometimes is pretty accurate on the ones where you'll get it as long as you finish the main mission.

That's about as free as you get.

And it tends to happen with Andorans - hmmm, Andorans, freedom and "Free" PA....hmmmm. Maybe it's planned?

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

0gre wrote:
You don't even have to skill check to get the front door open, just take enough rounds with an axe/ sword.

True, but the players are hesitant to start making that kind of noise before the mod even starts. And by the time they would get back to it, it might be too late. Without Knowledge(planes), or active help from the GM, it is unlikely that they will determine the connection to the runes. From a PA perspective, it's not a problem since the three, un-modified slaves, will complete the mission. Just saying that a pally, especially an Andoran one, might be a bit miffed if s/he lost a few slaves.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ****

I've GMed this one 4 times at a CON end of January. A few of the comments here got me to add mine:

Casting light:

Page 5 wrote:

Existing

light spells being maintained and magic items that shed
light must make a caster level check when first brought
into Blakros Museum, with a failed check indicating that
no light is generated for the next 24 hours while the item
or maintained spell is within the museum.

I did interpret it the way that if you cast a light spell and fail you can't cast it again in 24 hours. In my view it wouldn't make sense other vice as a cantrip would be more powerful as say a Daylight spell which you would lose if cast while a cantrip you would cast again and again.

Mazzel Gol

She definately was the toughest encounter. I did start one encounter with her coming out of invisibility - throwing a bomb in the middle of a group. The target was a new character (first game), I did a crit and my first damage was 6,6 rolled openly.
I got lucky by following it up with a 1,3 and the character was down - but thanks to high enough HP/Con just one HP short of final death.

Interestingly - in this specific encounter Mazzel went down the next combat action. A Crit on a two-handed sword power-attacked can do that.

But it was freaky dice - rolling

Uthil Mak

He was the weakest encounter. I always started with him having his back to the pyramid (I use 3D terrain) and both the Blakros Daughters kneeling next to him - allowing him cover and preventing any flanking options. Still - he was well in reach to be charged by 3 characters and never was a real thread.

The most deadly encounter was the entry room. When I ran it the first time I early on rolled a 20,20 (I always rolled both claws together) followed by a 20,19. Jaws dropped around the table. I liked the focus of the monster to take one person out first before going to the next. It allowed flanking for the weaker ones while the tank more or less always went down.

The door in the entrance hall:
I interpreted it (maybe wrongly) that only the shadow version of the door was locked. This prevented them going into the Shadow Realm - but it allowed to get slaves out ahead of breaking the Pyramid.

Thod

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

Thod wrote:

The door in the entrance hall:

I interpreted it (maybe wrongly) that only the shadow version of the door was locked. This prevented them going into the Shadow Realm - but it allowed to get slaves out ahead of breaking the Pyramid.

It is only the Shadow door closed, but that door still blocks your exist of the museum.

Also, every time I have ran this, the encounter that gave the group that hardest time was always the first one at the entrance.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Ran this again last night. We had a good turn out so I had seven players at the table.
Wizard-1
Cleric-3
Fighter-1
Fighter/Rogue-2
Fighter-1
Paladin-1
Bard-1

To save thread space:

Even with the +1 for 6+ players, the APL was only 2.4. They were really too good for the 1-2 challenge, but the one's wouldn't have stood up to the subtier 4-5. Had this been a tier 1-7 mod, tier 3-4 probably would have been the right challenge.

This time, I ruled that the darkness affected all light sources, and that even if the caster level check succeeded, they would only function at half range. The cleric managed to activate a Light, but giving out only 10ft of illumination didn't impact the game. He was never close enough to the Fletchlings to negate their Shadow Blending. So for the entire mod, the 50% miss chance was in play, and as it should have, neutralized roughly half of the successful attacks.

The skeleton was no challenge. He got one "surprise" shot on a fighter-1, but did little damage. Then they ganged up and took him down by the end of round one.

Next was the cold storage room. With it's decent AC, it took four rounds to drop the iron cobra. He managed to hit twice, but successful saves neutralized all but 1 point of Con loss. The PC had an odd Con score so no in-game effect anyway.

This time, Mazzel Gol was waiting for them. She wss invisible and up 15ft on the wall on the east side of the room in line with the entrance hallway. This afforded her a couple of rounds to observe the PC's as they entered. Fortunately, they decided to advance to the autopsy table in a group so she got maximum effect from the 1st bomb. Two of the fighters had no ranged weapons, and another was throwing chakras, so this turned out to be a challenge for them. The wizard cast Grease on the wall. She did save, but it forced her to walk down the wall out of the effect. Since she was "mad," she didn't notice that she was now over a trunk that someone could stand on and reach her. After throwing five bombs, dropping two of the fighters twice each, she drank the potion of True Strike and was preparing to go melee against the fighter who had climbed on the trunk. But she dropped before getting another shot. Had she moved again and continued to throw bombs, at least one, maybe two of the fighters would likely have died.

Because we started about 30 minutes late, and the battle with Mazzel took so long, they meta-gamed directly to the final room. The rogue fumbled about trying to unlock the doors, and took 20, which alerted Uthil Mak to their presence. He drank the potion of Shield of Faith, was already holding both potions of Cure Moderate Wounds, and was standing on the ziggurat. With both girls kneeing in front of him, it would prevent any charging shenanigans. The fighter/rogue was the first within reach and provoked an AoO with his double move. A quick kick to the head and a fortitude save (made it), revealed to them that he might be a monk. More double moves and Mak's turn was Flurry of Blows with two Stunning Fists and a point of Ki for an extra attack. Miss, miss, miss. Grrr. The wizard dropped a Color Spray on him an added Eastern Mysteries to boost the DC. Missed the save by one (grrr), battle over. I made them play it out, because he had decent HP's, and with the 50% miss, he nearly survived long enough to recover from the stun. Alas, not much of a challenge as it turned out. Interesting to note, if the party goes directly to the final encounter, and drops a save or suck like Color Spray on Uthil Mak, this mod might only last 30-60 minutes. By defeating him and stopping the conjunction, they could move through the mod with impunity, (I think) only loosing the mission involving Zelius.

They managed to destroy the device using the weapon blanching (adamantine), and end the conjunction. Since there was no more threat, before leaving the museum, they quickly checked the remaining rooms and with the rogue's Disable Device, was able to free the remaining slaves. The paladin was not happy that they "lost" two slaves and Zelius, but all PA was earned and no PC's died.

This mod is a "cake-walk" without the 50% concealment, so I recommend that it always be run that way. Otherwise the players will not find it challenging, nor likely very enjoyable. I know I had more fun with it this time. For future runs, I might go as far as to auto-suppress non-magical light sources and only allow caster level checks for actual magic light. Since Light is level zero, the cleric just kept casting it until he succeeded on the check. Lame, I know, but reasonable. Since I limited it to half radius, it gave them some light to use when searching for stuff, but did not nerf the combats.
...and no, I'm not a killer GM :-)

Shadow Lodge 2/5

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of going out of your way to make the scenario more difficult on the players.

Both times I ran this the players used natural lighting (just worked out that way), starting with torches and switching to sunrods when they started hitting the concealment issues so they were largely unaffected by the lighting limits, the module played out just fine.

Silver Crusade 4/5

0gre wrote:

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of going out of your way to make the scenario more difficult on the players.

I disagree. Several of the mods are just too easy, especially for the power gamers that I play with. If you don't make the mod more difficult for them, they just walk through it and there is no challenge. No challenge = No fun.

I do understand that this is sometimes difficult to do, especially for new GM's and I would not do it unless I knew the party and what they could and could not handle.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

I've now run this mod four times and the time I ran it as written, it was a cake walk for the players. The other three time, I used a more harsh version of the lighting effects and it was a good challenge with all resources used by the end of the mod...and no fatalities. I love this mod and would run it anytime, provided I can nerf the lighting so the fletchlings can use their shadow blending to full effect. If not, no thanks.

The Exchange 4/5

TwilightKnight wrote:
I've now run this mod four times and the time I ran it as written, it was a cake walk for the players. The other three time, I used a more harsh version of the lighting effects and it was a good challenge with all resources used by the end of the mod...and no fatalities. I love this mod and would run it anytime, provided I can nerf the lighting so the fletchlings can use their shadow blending to full effect. If not, no thanks.

Glad we are in agreement! The lighting thing needs to be fixed because the mechanic is poorly worded. I think the intention was all there, but it wasn't explained like it needed to be. I love this scenario as well!

Grand Lodge 4/5 *

Running this tonight, for a partially new (to me) group - not sure if I'll adjust the lighting or not. I *do* think it is silly to have a penalty that happens more or less randomly, based on whether you happen to use magical or mundane light sources - it's not like there's any way to figure it out. Especially since it's such a flavourful penalty that really reinforces the plot and backstory.

One question: is there a reason Uthil Mak doesn't have the "Resist cold 5, electricity 5" of the other fetchlings?

Grand Lodge 2/5

I'm prepping to run this one tomorrow and thought I'd share this image I found:

http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=unseelie&order=9&offset=168#/d2ohqp 0

You could not find a more perfect visual aid for Mazzel. It looks like a feral mutagened fetchling, who is both spider climbing and shadow blending. Well worth printing as a hand out.

A couple of other thoughts...

We are used to viewing the maps and lighting as unbroken 2d spheres. Because I am prepping this for an online table, I have the option to set up lighting and mark things that block it. If you consider all those objects on the map to be tall enough to block a light source there are shadows all over the place, but they will be moving in accordance with those providing light. Probably too much of a pain to pay attention to in detail for a face to face game, but it is a consideration.

Also- just for fun and to tie things together I'm considering having Mazzel mention that once, long ago, she was one of the Blackros daughters. Bestiary 2 mentions that fetchlings are humans who were changed over time by being stranded in the plane of shadows with the lifespan of half elves and here we have humans being taken and marked with rituals and liquid shadow. I can only manage that bit if the opportunity for conversation presents itself, but invisible and spider climbing offers a better opportunity than most.

The way I read the light rules it works the other way around from what some people were saying upthread. Casting a light spell requires a concentration check. Failing that check locks the spell or magic item out as a light source for 24 hours in the Shadow world of the museum. Thus rather than casting until you succeed, you cast until you eventually fail. Granted- the wording is muddled but that is what I took the intent to be. I will probably also half the radius of all (including mundane or alchemical) light sources as other people seem to be doing unless the table is new players or brand new PCs who need a break. I don't really care about doing that to make it a little harder; I'm more interested in it being part of the ambience of planar convergence. When light just doesn't work right it can encourage a bit of worry or at least a sense that things aren't right here. Firing up your 2 gp sunrod and completely dispelling the effects of the plane of shadow is kinda lame.

Grand Lodge 2/5

I ran this the other night and while bsing at the end one of the players who had GMed it before (Tangaroa) mentioned some background detail about this scenario that I'd like to find out more about. Stuff about the Onyx Alliance being the shadow plane equivalent of the pathfinder society. Anyone know offhand where this is mentioned? Are there more scenarios featuring the Onyx Alliance or Shadow Absalom? The Alliance doesn't seem to be mentioned in The Great Beyond or the wiki and info about Shadow Absalom is sparse.

If there is more info out there I'd like to find it to widen potential Knowledge roll results, interrogation dialogue or just hint at throughout when I run this again.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

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The Onyx Alliance was a new invention for this scenario and has not been mentioned anywhere else. I think of it more as a Shadow Plane version of the Aspis Consortium than the Pathfinder Society, personally, as they're more about trade and accumulation of wealth and slaves than exploration and gathering knowledge.

3/5

Yes, sorry about that Ith. I was looking into that later and determined that was a bit of invention on my part, so sorry to mislead you. I think they do have some nice parallels in terms of quest for knowledge and artifact collection... although dark and twisted. I still tend to think of them as the "real" shadow lodge.

The stuff about Argrinyxia, The Umbral Dragon, is strictly canon, and is briefly mentioned in "The Great Beyond - A Guide to the Multiverse"

I'd love to see more on the Onyx Alliance. Ever and always I crave for recurring villains in Pathfinder Society with a little backbone to them.

Mark Moreland wrote:
The Onyx Alliance was a new invention for this scenario and has not been mentioned anywhere else. I think of it more as a Shadow Plane version of the Aspis Consortium than the Pathfinder Society, personally, as they're more about trade and accumulation of wealth and slaves than exploration and gathering knowledge.

Grand Lodge 2/5

+1 for the Onyx Alliance. And I like your take on the them Tangaroa. I'll probably make something more of them as an organization next time.

Shadow Absalom deserves some exploration too :)

1/5

Did I miss something or are the Skeletal Guardians in Encounter 1 cheating?

Both creature's natural armor bonus have been calculated as the base creature's natural armor bonus plus the skeleton template's natural armor bonus instead of simply replacing the base creature's natural armor bonus.

The extra +10 to AC for the Young Copper Dragon Skeleton gives it a bit of an advantage.

I also noted that they gave it an extra hit die 10 vs 9 to make it a CR 5. Not that the extra HD makes much of a difference, it just isn't noted anywhere.

They also took away the reach on the dragon's bite attack. I would have considered this as a special quality that improves its melee attack that would be retained when applying the skeleton template.


Bob Jonquet wrote:
This mod is a "cake-walk" without the 50% concealment, so I recommend that it always be run that way. Otherwise the players will not find it challenging, nor likely very enjoyable.

I had to run this adventure cold yesterday morning, and I ruled that the 50% miss chance was in effect at all times, light sources notwithstanding. Although the PCs had very bad luck with it (someone joked the enemies had 90% concealment), it was the only thing that kept the fights at all interesting or lengthy. Since there is little to this adventure other than the fights, this was a good thing for us.

Grand Lodge 4/5

I'm getting ready to run it again, for the first time in season 3, and I just realized that the Lantern Lodge faction mission will be rather nonsensical.

Lantern Lodge players get the Qadiran mission in season 0-2. One of the Qadiran missions is to discover the mysterious donor of the Tian exhibit. The donor is none other than

Spoiler:
Amara Li, the Lantern Lodge faction leader, making an early cameo.

What would be the best way to spin this for my Lantern Lodge players? A clever test from their faction leader?

Shadow Lodge 4/5 * Venture-Captain, Michigan—Mt. Pleasant

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Kelly Youngblood wrote:

I'm getting ready to run it again, for the first time in season 3, and I just realized that the Lantern Lodge faction mission will be rather nonsensical.

Lantern Lodge players get the Qadiran mission in season 0-2. One of the Qadiran missions is to discover the mysterious donor of the Tian exhibit. The donor is none other than ** spoiler omitted **

What would be the best way to spin this for my Lantern Lodge players? A clever test from their faction leader?

I was just checking out the scenario and was wondering the same thing. What I had been telling my players for pre S3 scenarios was basically their Faction leader telling them "I owe 'the other faction leader' a favor, they'd like you to work with their agents or perform a task for them."

I've been thinking in this instance after the mission saying something like, "I wish they had just let me know what they wanted, I could have told them and saved them the hassle. The items in question were simply some things that were taking up space in my home and office and I thought the public of Absalom would find them interesting..."

Scarab Sages

I did not see this mentioned in the prior comments, but does nobody else find the skeletal guardian a bit much for the low tier? The thing has 4 attacks and it decimated a party of 1st and 2nd levels.


Ok, So my wife and I ran this yesterday.

This has to be the largest letdown of any game we have played.

in total the game was one hour and MAYBE 15 min long...

Our characters were...

Level 2 oracle1/barbarian 1 with a reach weapon
level 2 Lore warden 2

The rest of the party doesnt matter as they may as well not have been there...

area one.

the barbarian was 10' away from the skeleton when it came to life, as he was ready for it (come on, its a freakin shadowy skeleton thing) the gm had the barb act in the suprise round.

barb hits, skeleton moves up and attacks. barbarian is a bit hurt.
next round barb 5' back, rage, smash, dead skeleton.

1 charge from a wand, healed.

next is a hallway, if you read the little signs, the far one says ritual chamber. well we are here to stop something so in we go.

2 girls, one BBEG.

BBEG drinks a potion. k, game on.

Barbarian enters, hits, other fighter also hits. BBEG dies.

after looking around we find the shadowy thing at the top of the other thing. pry out some gems......

Yeah thats the end of the adventure.

Shadow plane goes away, you cant do anything else.

seriously. your just back in the normal meuseum. congrats. you chose the right (wrong?) door and ended it.

Not a lot of fun for us. The GM was great and tossing dice is always good, but perhaps some way not to end it so fast would be good.

Scarab Sages

Furmonger - Your point is valid with the Blakros Museum map.

Spoiler:
Like Mists of Mwangi, players are able to bypass a majority of the encounters by going to the far room.
.

This has not happened to me yet, but I planned to tell the PCs that they hear screaming from one of the other rooms if I think they are going directly to the Ritual Chamber. Hopefully that would be enough to persuade them to try one of the exhibit halls first.

Regarding the skeletal guardian, as you will see above, I almost killed the entire party. Did your GM give the guardian its full four attacks on the barbarian? Also, what was the barbarian using for a weapon? The skeleton was resistant to all but bludgeoning weapons.

Our experiences were very diiferent for the first encounter.

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